Audiobook Mini-reviews: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Title: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Genre: Non-fiction, history
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Edward Herrmann
First line: In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening.

After Bryan at Unfinished Person said that Unbroken would be one of his top reads of the year – even though it was only February – I knew I had to read it. Then it showed up on my library’s list of new audiobooks, and so it jumped right to the top of my list. This is truly an amazing story that vividly demonstrates how much the human spirit can endure. Louie Zamperini went from Olympic athlete to World War II bombardier to POW in Japan, never losing his amazing strength of spirit. His story is heartbreaking, inspiring, and ultimately, redemptive. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Audio notes: Edward Hermann does a fantastic job of telling Zamperini’s story. He has the type of voice you would associate with a news broadcaster, and yet he brought just the right amount of emotion and warmth to the narration.

Title: The Supernaturalist
Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: YA science fiction
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Chiwetel Ejiofor
First line: Satellite City: The City of the Future, proclaimed the billboards.

The Supernaturalist is my second experience with Eion Colfer’s work, and it is completely different than Artemis Fowl, though just as enjoyable. This book is definitely darker but still has elements of humor that keep it from being too heavy. This is a cross between a dystopia and fantasy, with a fantastic group of characters. The protagonist, Cosmo Hill, on the run from the Clarissa Frayne Institute for the Parentally Challenged, gets rescued by a group called the Supernaturalists. Cosmo possesses an ability that helps him fit in perfectly with the group – the ability to see the Parasites, which feed off the energy of dying humans – and joins them in their war to stop the creatures. The premise is unique, the plot has just enough twists to keep things interesting, and the characters are memorable.

Audio notes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose name I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce, does a wonderful job of embodying the young Cosmo Hill, as well as voicing a range of other characters of various ethnicities.

Title: Sarah’s Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Polly Stone
First line: The girl was the first to hear the loud pounding on the door.

I enjoy historical fiction that follows dual storylines: a modern plot line in which someone researches or discovers a part of history, and the historical story itself. It isn’t always done well, but when it is, it makes for a great read, and Sarah’s Key is a great read – or, rather, a great listen. Expatriate Julia Jarmond lives in Paris with her husband, Bertrand, and 11-year-old daughter, Zoe. She writes for a Paris magazine, and when her editor asks her to write an article for the 60th commemoration of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup, she discovers that her husband’s family has a connection to one of the victims of the Vel d’Hiv, a fact that has been kept secret from even her husband. The story alternates between Julia’s story in 2002, and the story of Sarah Starzynski, a young girl who was rounded up by the Paris police on July 16, 1942. I had never heard of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup before and found the history heart-breaking and fascinating. While the modern storyline, told in first person by Julia, occasionally involved too much navel-gazing for my taste, I mostly enjoyed her story as well.

Audio notes: Polly Stone is an amazing reader, and I’m sure she was hired in part for her flawless French. I loved listening to all the French phrases and place names and she varied her voice just enough between Julia’s story and Sarah’s story.

This entry was posted in audiobooks, historical fiction, history, non-fiction, paranormal fiction, science fiction, YA fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Audiobook Mini-reviews: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I actually have Unbroken in print, but would have a better chance of listening to it on audio, so I just ordered it. And Sarah’s Key? Our book club read it. I loved Sarah’s story, but the modern portion of the book was pretty weak and brought the whole thing down. Julia got on my nerves!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – Julia started to get on my nerves toward the end, too – thus the “navel-gazing” comment. :)

  2. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    Oh, yay! I have Unbroken on audio, so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it so much.

  3. irene says:

    I loved Sarah’s Key.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Irene – it always amazes me when a piece of WW II fiction manages to bring up an episode during that war that I hadn’t heard of before – like the Vel d’Hiv.

  4. Sheila (Bookjourney)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    I love audio so had to check your thoughts out on these… for the first time ever I am thorugh all my audios and need more… checked one out at the library yesterday, Dreamland by Sarah Dessen… my first Dessen and I was nervous as I hate to go into audio “cold turkey”…. I am a true narrator snob. :) This one is pretty good though….

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sheila – I’ve never read – or listened to – a Dessen before – but have been meaning to for a while. Looking forward to your thoughts on Dreamland.

  5. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    Wow, they all sound amazing. I need a new audiobook for when I go to my mom’s at the end of the month, so I’m jotting these titles down.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – yes, they would all make a great accompaniment for your trip. :)

  6. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    I really want to read Unbroken! There’s no sign of it on my library bookshelves though unfortunately! What I do have sitting on my bookshelf unread is Sarah’s Key. One day I will get to it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Marg – I hope your library gets Unbroken soon – it’s a must-read. :)

  7. Rebecca Rasmussen
    Twitter: thebirdsistersgmail.com
    says:

    I love when you do mini reviews! :)

  8. Anna says:

    I really want to read Unbroken, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I liked Sarah’s Key, but I was drawn more to Sarah’s story than the present-day story. I’ll link to your reviews on War Through the Generations.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Anna – the problems with the modern story in Sarah’s Key seem to be a common experience. Thanks for linking me!

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